A “substrate” in sign-making refers to the physical material the sign is made of. Choice of substrate is usually determined by the purpose of the sign and generally involves how long the sign needs to last.
Substrate materials range in size, weight and thickness, which all affect the overall cost.
The substrates we use are:
Aluminum w/ PVC core
Corrugated plastic is used mostly for temporary signs, the ones you see for election signs, yard sales, contractors signs, real estate signs and site signs for new construction projects. They come with wire stakes for easy installation (in soft ground)
Aluminum composite material, also known as Alumilite and Dibond, is made of thin layers of aluminum with a PVC core. Available in different thicknesses, it is light-weight and ideal for mid to long term outdoor signs. Advantages over wood, besides the weight, are that it’s not prone to warping and not affected by moisture.
Sign Foam is available in different densities and thicknesses and is used for dimensional sign-making. We use it for carved signs and for three dimensional additions to wood signs. It is light-weight and durable.
We use various kinds of wood, depending on the purpose of the sign.
MDO is an exterior grade plywood with a smooth, moisture-proof surface that takes paint very well.
Red Cedar and Pine are also used for some of our signs.